San Jose, Calif. — Fry’s has consummated its on-again, off-again marriage with CE e-tailer Outpost.com.
Following last week’s $8 million cash-for-stock merger, Outpost.com (formerly Cyberian Outpost) became a wholly owned subsidiary of the closely held 19-store specialty chain and is no longer publicly traded.
The move gives Fry’s its first e-commerce platform, as well as Outpost’s database of some 1.5 million customers.
As part of the merger agreement, Fry’s will also provide Outpost with $13 million in loans. The funds will be used to extricate the e-tailer from an existing buyout agreement with PC Connection, from which it received two lines of credit worth as much as $8 million, and to pay off Cyberian’s secured debt and provide funds for working capital.
Darryl Peck, Outpost.com’s founder, president and CEO, stated, ‘Fry’s acquisition of Outpost.com proved to be our best opportunity to enhance stockholder value. Outpost.com’s employees and management are excited to join the Fry’s family and extend to the Internet Fry’s philosophy of being the one-stop supplier to the hi-tech professional.’
Privately held Fry’s initially agreed to buy Outpost in July for some $22 million in an effort to establish an e-commerce presence, after taking a 10-percent stake in the company in May. Outpost had already agreed to a stock-for-stock merger with PC Connection, a direct marketer of computer systems and peripherals, that was valued at about $25 million and set to close during the third quarter.
By August, Fry’s did an about-face by withdrawing its bid for Outpost and agreeing to purchase Egghead following its bankruptcy filing. Meanwhile, PC Connection was believed to have soured on its own acquisition plans for Outpost due to a stipulation of its own that the e-tailer’s net worth be no less than $14 million at the time of closing.
Brothers John, Randy and Dave Fry founded Fry’s in 1985. Envisioning their business as a ‘one-stop shopping environment for high-tech professionals,’ they built the operation from a single 20,000-square-foot location to a 19-unit chain with stores in Arizona, California, Oregon and Texas that range from 50,000 to 180,000 square feet and carry 50,000 SKUs. Annual revenue was about $1.1 billion last year, according to TWICE estimates.
It is unclear how the purchase will impact Outpost’s online joint venture with Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, which sells high-end CE through a branded department at www.outpost.com .
Meanwhile, the following notice has been posted at Egghead.com :
‘As many of you know, since August 15, 2001 Egghead has been operating as a debtor-in-possession under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Our plan had been to sell the assets of the business as a going concern and continue providing Egghead customers with great value and selection. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where we are unable to continue active operations. As a result, as of 5:00 p.m. PST on October 25, 2001 we have ceased active operations and suspended all commercial activity until further notice. The Egghead URL and web site will still be accessible at www.egghead.com but the shopping and fulfillment functionality will be disabled effective as of the date and time noted above.
‘Please Note: Egghead continues to have active discussions with several interested parties who are intent on re-activating an Egghead web site and once again operating the business as a vibrant going concern. Please continue to monitor the web site for further developments and updates. Thank you.’